I’m in the process of training for my first runDisney race, the Princess Half Marathon in February 2016.  Here’s what preparing for such an event entails fitness-wise, ideas for Disney plans to make on the side, and things to consider if you’d like to register.  And why I think this is an exciting, motivational, and realistic Disney Bucket List item for anyone to try.

The Reason to Run: runDisney

Making a runDisney tutu.

Making a runDisney tutu. Photo by Tami Mittan / Outdoorsy TravelingMom.

Every year registration opens up for that legendary runDisney Princess Half Marathon, literally months in advance. It taunts me every time, my pulse racing at the thought of finally tackling this Disney Bucket List item of mine.

And every year, I get another year older. I’m an active mom in my 40s. Will a half marathon be any easier to run next year? Or the year after that? Probably not.

It was this line of reasoning that finally helped me take the run Disney plunge.

Registration Closes Lightning Fast

runDisney training run.

runDisney training run. Photo by Tami Mittan / Outdoorsy TravelingMom.

RunDisney has grown to offer numerous, themed races through the year. But to my knowledge, the Princess Half is the most popular. Because who doesn’t want to run through Cinderella Castle in a tutu, and be surrounded by opportunities to meet Disney royalty along the course?

Typically held in February, registration for the runDisney Princess races opens the previous July. That’s right: seven months in advance. There’s a 5K, 10K, and half marathon. Since this has been a years-long dream of mine, I’m thinking: Go big, or go home. So I set my sights on the half.

I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. RunDisney does announce in advance the date that registration will open, but I wasn’t paying attention. Fortunately this past July, I caught wind the day registration had begun for the February 2016 Princess Half. I immediately checked the runDisney site, and saw that the half marathon race was already 85 percent filled. I scrambled around for an hour, checking schedules and my travel budget. When I checked again a half hour later… it was 95 percent filled.

I was not going to be left behind in the pixie dust this year! So I did it.

The 2016 runDisney Princess Half Marathon filled in just over 3 hours. If you have this in your future sights, plan ahead and mark your calendar early for when registration begins.

3 Generation Girls Trip

The making of a runDisney Rapunzel outfit.

The making of a runDisney Rapunzel outfit. Photo by Tami Mittan / Outdoorsy TravelingMom.

Last Spring, my 10-year-old daughter and I ran our first 5K, at the conclusion of her Girls On The Run program. It was a fantastic memory to make together, and I’d love for her to have running as an active hobby that she enjoys.

So it made perfect sense to include her in my runDisney experience, and register us both for the Princess 5K. My mom eagerly hopped on board, and we turned this in to fabulous 3 Generation Girls Trip!

Of course, this makes princess costume creation an even more enjoyable project.  My daughter claimed dibs on Cinderella, and the tutu making commenced.

Making Fun Disney Reservations

Planning the details of any Disney World trip is practically my favorite part. My family is pretty hooked on staying on property, for the immersive experience and extra perks. Plus, then Mickey picks us up at the airport and gives us a free ride in the Magical Express.

Since the Princess Half Marathon race starts very early in the morning at Epcot, I was hoping to stay in that vicinity. But once the Disney Special Offers for February were released, the select rooms available changed my plans slightly. So we added a Dining Plan (never a bad thing), and arranged to stay at Coronado Resort for the first time. All Disney Resorts are considered host resorts for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend, meaning they will all be running extra early bus service to the races.

Next up, planning the celebratory food!  I figured there will never, ever be a better time to try the mammoth ice cream Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream, than after running 13.1 miles. And my celebration dinner that evening has to be at my all-time favorite Disney World restaurant: Ohana, at Polynesian Village Resort.

Ahhhh, there.  Now that we have the important food details all arranged, I guess it’s time to get my body ready to actually run.

All Geared Up

Prepping for runDisney. Photo by Tami MittanInspired by my impulsive registration in July, I rode that emotional high straight to the sidewalk and immediately started my training. I’ve been running three times a week for a few weeks now.

I’m not going to lie, progress feels slow. But using Disney’s Jeff Galloway run-walk-run strategy has been working wonders, and is responsible for the most pain-free running I’ve ever done. I adjust my run/walk intervals, as I build up strength and endurance. Jeff has a chart all figured out for you, so that you can estimate your race time.

In order to be allowed to finish the race, you need to maintain a (very do-able) 16 minute mile. But keep in mind the party along the way! My personal goal is to train thoroughly, and be able to pad in plenty of photo opp and meet-the-Princesses time.

I’ve already found a few tricks of the running trade that have worked well for me.  I’ve got some super squishy running shoes. I purchased a very lightweight, tiny iPod shuffle to store just my running songs. I went ahead and invested in a GPS running watch, which keeps track of my running intervals with a nice vibrating alert. And although not the tastiest treat, energy gels work really well to give me a boost before a run, without upsetting my stomach.

Life Saving Training Plans

runDisney runners' equipment

runDisney runners’ equipment. Photo by Tami Mittan / Outdoorsy TravelingMom.

One of many fabulous aspects of runDisney, is the accounting for all types of people setting this as a fitness goal. And Disney gives you a little gift, to help you reach that goal. His name is Jeff Galloway.

Jeff Galloway is a former Olympic runner, turned famous running coach. He’s joined the runDisney team to provide consulting and training services. The runDisney website offers date-specific training programs to download for your chosen race. I found two plans are available for the Princess Half:  one for beginner runners, and one for experienced runners.

I downloaded the “Disney Princess Half Marathon Training Program for Beginning Runners.” So far, it’s been an amazing help. Between the progressive training plan and Jeff’s brilliant run-walk-run strategy, I really think I’ve got this. There are also a number of helpful blogs, with runners who’ve experienced runDisney, and have lots of insight to share and helpful tips to preparing for the Princess Half Marathon.

For me personally, having such a reward in place is proving to be a highly motivational and exciting experience. My fitness and energy levels have already improved, and all for the love of Disney!

The beauty of it is, if you put in the time and effort ahead of time…. I truly believe anyone can experience runDisney.